Al-Shabab militants storm a military base in southern Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Al Shabab fighters detonated two suicide car bombs before storming a major military base in Lower Shabelle region, the south of Somalia on Wednesday morning, Garowe Online reports.
Dahir Hassan, a local resident, speaking to Garowe Online said the huge explosions were followed by a gun attack on the base in Awdheegle town, about 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
The military in nearby areas was sending reinforcements to the base following the reports of an explosion and heavy fighting after the rebel attack, an official with Somali National Army said.
"We heard deafening blasts in the early hours on Wednesday morning. Then heavy exchange of gunfire followed. It was in the direction of the Somali military base," said Hassan.
Ga'al Abdulle, a young cameraman working for Somali state-run media was reported to be among three people who lost their lives in the assault which comes amid increased US airstrikes in the region.
There was no immediate comment from government officials about the attack on the base in the newly liberated agriculturally-rich town, which served previously as a logistics hub for the militant group.
Al-Shabab claimed killing dozens of soldiers in the attack, but, did not say how many fighters it lost in the battle.
The attack follows an August 11 operation conducted in Shaam village, near Awdheegle that wounded the spokesman of the Al-Qaeda-linked extremists, Ali Mohamud Rageh, popularly known as [Ali Dheere], according to the Somali army radio.
The group lost swathes of territory in the south and central Somalia as it is battling to topple the UN-backed Somali Federal Government which is protected by 22,000 African Union soldiers serving under AMISOM.